Free for all Friday: Romance or Plot?

Trying out regular blog content, today’s is “Free for all Friday,” where I choose whichever topic I like, then maunder over it for a little while before opening it up to comments.

The topic that struck me today was: Do you prefer romance to take the forefront, or do you want your story to be plot-driven?

Let me first elaborate on the question before presenting my viewpoint. When reading, or writing, do you prefer it to be a romance-driven story, focusing on the unfolding feelings between the main characters (and/or supporting cast), or do you prefer it to be it to be a plot-driven narrative, focusing on the details that keep events rather than relationship moving forward?

For my own part, I began my creative writing endeavors focused on the relationships between people. It was a strength of my writing that was commented on by my professors, peers, and later on my readers. It was also my area of interest, honing in on what happens between two people when they begin to notice each other, whether that’s to create sparks or even rub each other the wrong way. My stories tended to be relationship-focused, in turn, and any plot that happened was either off-screen or incidental.

As time went on, relationship became a vehicle for plot. It took me a while to get there, maybe, but the plot points became as interesting to me as telling the story of the relationship itself. In a way, I credit this to a reader essentially challenging me to make my stories more than “these two characters get together.” And with some practice and refinements, I think I’ve managed to get there.

My preference as a reader is for a relationship story that is as important as, and ideally intertwined with, the plot points throughout. Accordingly, I find this is the kind of story that I seek to write.

A lot of people seem to seek out their stories for very particular reasons: they’re reading it for the sex (including the relationship), or they’re reading it for plot. Of course, there are those that seek both, in varying mixes. And of course, both are equally valid. Sometimes I’m in the mood for plotty, and sometimes I’m in the mood for sexy.

Most often, though, I seek the best of both worlds. What’s your preference?


  1. I think it depends on what I’m reading.
    When I read erotica I’m reading for the sex. I want to see interesting, well thought out, even unusual and hot sex scenes.
    When I read romance I tend to like an interesting plot but also with a strong romance in there as well. Sex isn’t necessary but it had to be one incredibly boring sex scene for me not to read it if it is there. I am not one of those people who skip them. I do also enjoy can romances that put the relationship first as long as the writer manages to keep things interesting. Which for me has a lot to do with having a really interesting or unusual setting and cast of characters. One reason I read very little Contemporary actually is I tend to not find the setting to be all that interesting although they can be.

    As a writers I’ve written plot heavy stories, relationship heavy stories and erotica so I’m easy I guess.

    1. Yeah, I agree both in that I’m easy, but it also depends on what I’m reading. Or writing! There’s some stories where the mood, the tone, of the romance or the story isn’t really conducive to a hot sex scene, and then there’s the stories that are great with some steamy sex every other chapter!

  2. I like to read books that are focused on the relationship, but I am finding myself moving away from very sexual stories. Which is frustrating, because it seems quite difficult to find stories in the m/m genre that aren’t full of sex scenes. And I guess the result is that I’m reading more book that you describe enjoying most,

    1. I feel like I’m missing part of your reply here! For me it depends on my mood – sometimes I want something really sexy. But usually I’ll try to channel that into writing something sexy. 😉 On the whole, though, I definitely want to seek strong plots that keep events moving forward while weaving relationships in there as well, whether it involves sexual consummation or not.

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